EU vaccine chaos deepens as Madrid SUSPENDS Covid jabs over shortage of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca supplies

THE EU faced more Covid woe today as the Madrid region announced it was suspending its vaccination programme.

The move comes amid an ongoing shortage of supplies of the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca jabs.

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Speaking to reporters, Ignacio Aguado, vice-president of Madrid’s regional government, said none of its 6.2million inhabitants would receive their first jab for the next fortnight.

He said officials had been forced to take the decision because of a reduction in the number of doses being received.

Catalonia, Spain’s second most important region, also said its fridges “would be empty tomorrow”.

Josep Maria Argimon, Public Health secretary of the Catalan regional government called the Generalitat, told a press conference: “Moderna is late, Pfizer is sending less vaccines and we’ve no news from AstraZeneca.”

The EU signed deals with Pfizer and AstraZeneca for 600million and 300million doses respectively, but both companies have fallen short of the amount they had been expected to supply by now amid production issues.

It also has a deal with Moderna for 160million, but the firm has delayed delivery to some European countries, Reuters reports.

The episode emerged as German media rounded on the EU over Europe’s vaccine debacle, calling it “the best advert for Brexit”.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen was also blamed for a three-month delay in ordering jabs compared to the UK.

A front-page editorial in Die Zeit, one of the country's most prominent broadsheets, said the bloc had acted "slowly, bureaucratically and protectionist" and that "if something goes wrong, it's everyone else's fault".

A similar piece in Bild read: "[Von der Leyen] says, 'We know that there is no time to lose in a pandemic,' but what she means is: 'We may have wasted time. But we will NEVER admit that.'"

Both articles also quoted an AstraZeneca employee as saying: "I understand Brexit a bit better now."

For the time being, the process of administering a second vaccination in the Madrid region to the elderly, care home workers, and health professionals who have already received their first jab, will continue.

But the delays are expected to affect those high-risk groups who have not yet received their first vaccination.

Mr Aguado said: “We need more doses and we need them now.

“That has to be the main, if not the only priority of the Health Minister. She has to move Heaven and Earth to achieve that objective.”

He also claimed that at the current rate, only 10 per cent of the Madrid region’s population would be vaccinated by June and the remaining 90 per cent by 2023.

Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez claimed a few days ago he believed 70 per cent of Spain’s population would be vaccinated by the end of summer.  

He also said the rollout would enable Spain to open back up to international tourism.

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